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Military News Briefs for the Week Ending Sept. 8, 2000

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 8, 2000 –

(This is a summary of the top American Forces Press Service news stories for the week ending Sept. 8, 2000.)

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'POINT-CLICK' CIVILIAN PERSONNEL DATA SYSTEM NEARS REALITY

Defense Department civilian personnel specialists and managers starting next year will be able to perform employee actions, gather information and assemble reports with the click of a computer mouse.

The new Defense Civilian Personnel Data System will be the world's largest human resource data system, according to Diane M. Disney, deputy assistant secretary of defense for civilian personnel policy. "It will be the first fully integrated data system that works in 'real time. In other words, you could find out 'right-this-minute' anything you want to know about your personnel record or about the records of the people you're managing."

Disney said the DoD database would support more than 800,000 employee records and be able to process 1.75 million different pay and benefit combinations for each employee. Test sites have been operating since October 1999 at Fort Richardson, Alaska; Naval Submarine Base Bangor, Wash.; and San Antonio.

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DoD ATTACKS ECSTASY DRUG USE

DoD next year plans to introduce a better screening process in its random drug testing program that will be more sensitive to the illegal drug Ecstasy. Service members' markedly increased use of the drug in fiscal 1999 raised DoD's concern.

DoD has tracked Ecstasy and service members' use since the early 1990s. "Our primary concern was that this was a popular drug in Europe, and we had service members stationed there," said Army Col. Mick Smith, science and testing officer of DoD's Office of the Coordinator for Drug Enforcement Policy and Support. DoD mandated servicewide random testing for Ecstasy in 1997.

The synthetic psychoactive drug has no medical value and cannot be prescribed legally, Smith said. It causes the brain to release serotonin, which makes users feel euphoric. However, recent scientific evidence shows that even small amounts of Ecstasy also damage nerve cells and cause permanent brain damage. An overdose can cause dehydration, elevated temperature, decreased blood pressure, seizures and death.

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SERVICES CONSOLIDATE EXCHANGE CHARGE CARDS

Look for the the Military Star Card in your mailbox. It's the result of the consolidation of the Delayed Payment Plan charge card issued by Army and Air Force Exchange Service and the NEXCARD used in Navy and Marine exchanges.

The Star Card will be accepted at most of the AAFES, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Exchange activities, to include catalog and military clothing stores operated by AAFES and Marine Corps exchanges, Gordon said. Previously, the exchanges honored only their own command's cards.

The official implementation date was Sept. 3, but DPP cardholders in good credit standing began receiving their Star Cards in the mail weeks ago. The old cards can be used until Dec. 31. The Star Card carries a 14.25 interest rate, the same rate as the cards it supercedes.

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ARMY GENERAL TAKES OVER JOINT FORCES/NATO COMMANDS

Transforming America's armed forces is a complex proposition that involves far more than purchasing new weapons systems, said the new commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command and NATO's Allied Forces Command, Atlantic.

Army Gen. William Kernan command of U.S. Joint Forces Command and NATO's Allied Forces Command, Atlantic Sept. 5 in a ceremony aboard the carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. He's the first Army general to hold the Norfolk-based commands.

Kernan came to Norfolk from XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, N.C. He was commissioned into the Army in 1968 and served as a rifle platoon leader with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. He led the 75th Ranger Regiment on its combat jump into Panama  during Operation Just Cause in 1989.

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